|Gregory Shamus, Getty Images|
|The Key Play|
And that's what's at the heart of his offense. His playbook isn't incredibly deep, what it is is very detail oriented. While he got a bit more diverse in the NFL (with more practice time), he still focused more on being able to execute the same plays, based on predefined keys, reads, sets, etc, than he did about tricking the opponent with a complex playbook.
|Seth Fisher, MGoBlog|
Seth Fisher, MGoBlog
And off of all that comes the threat of play action. By switching up on play action blocking schemes, pulling guards or utilizing slide protections, hard fakes, soft fakes, all those things, he gives a lot for the defense to think about because there are simply so many looks the defense must account for. The overload and unbalanced formations make it exceedingly difficult to call plays as a defense as well. The variety of protection schemes, the numbers aligned to one side of the formation, and the motions, make calling anything but base defenses much more of a guessing game. Sure, you guess right and you can snuff out a play, but if you guess wrong, you've got no chance. In that way, like a spread playbook, it forces defenses to remain vanilla or risk playing a game of rock, paper, scissors every down. Play a passive defense and get caught with too few bodies at the point of attack, play too aggressive of a defense and get caught with wide open spaces and guys with serious pass/run responsibility conflicts.
Spider = Slide Protection, 3 = Direction of Slide, Y Banana = Y-TE running Banana Route
With overload formations, he can also overload zones in the passing game, which is difficult for defenses that focus so heavily on stopping the run. Triangles, quick 2-man reads, and getting the ball out of the QB's hand allow the offense to stay on track and remain balanced. By building in hot routes into his offense (as many WCOs do) he again has the focus of keeping the chains moving and getting the ball out of the receiver's hands and into the playmaker's hands in space.
And like many WCOs from the days of yore, Harbaugh prefers to have a viable running threat at QB. This isn't to say he'll be putting Braxton Miller behind center, but a guy like Steve Young, a guy that can roll the pocket, scramble, and have a handful of designed runs a game is preferred. Harbaugh's last three QBs were Andrew Luck at Stanford (ran for 453 yards at 8.2 ypc in Harbaugh's last season), Alex Smith with the 49ers (ran for 179 and 132 yards in two seasons; was previously an Urban Meyer QB), and finally Colin Kaepernick (ran for 415, 524, and 639 in 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively; was previously a the QB at Nevada, one of the places where the pistol formation was popularized). Heck, Harbaugh himself was a run threat, averaging 5.0 ypc in his pro career. And with the 49ers, he increasingly implemented spread schemes to fit his heavy personnel tendencies. The proof is in the pudding that this is a classic WCO with modern spread principles mixed in.
|Jim Light, Jim Light Football|
And with these skills you can go out and win QB Challenge in the QB Club
You can take on a Walrus in a push up contest
You can go on Saved By the Bell and make it out without being stabbed by Screech.
And yet, despite being a perfectionist, if you do all the things he preaches, you can still manage to find some time with Dad to go watch what is possibly America's Greatest TV Show (not named The Simpsons)
So, yeah, Michigan fans...
You got your guy
You got your guy